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Nancy Schimelpfening

What Is Remission From Depression?

By November 2, 2012

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Remission is the major goal of depression treatment, but just what is remission?  And do clinicians and patients define it in the same way?

According to Rhode Island Hospital researcher Mark Zimmerman, M.D., patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) often define remission differently than clinicians do.

In clinical trials, remission is often defined based upon scores on symptom severity scales.  Patients, on the other hand, put a stronger emphasis on life satisfaction and a sense of well-being.

Based upon this fact, Zimmerman's team developed a Remission From Depression Questionnaire (RDQ), which incorporated the factors that patients considered most important.  When tested, it was found that it was a reliable and valid means of testing the patient's perception of whether they were in remission.

"More work must be done to broaden the definition of remission," Zimmerman said. "Our patients need to feel supported, they need to feel confident about their remission. Therefore, it's imperative that clinicians and patients work more closely together to more clearly define remission in order to achieve the best outcomes for these patients. If some of the symptoms appear to be alleviated, but the patient is still suffering from a poor sense of well-being and low life satisfaction, then there is still more work to do."

The study was published online in advance of print in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

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November 7, 2012 at 6:54 am
(1) Deborah Brooks says:

After 23 yrs of chronic biological depression, I think I can speak for many to say that, of course, it is the patient’s definition….we live it (try to) and live for “remission” in whatever from it may come. I once read a quote that I love: “Depression is like a psychic freight train of roaring despair”. When you have chronic/bio, you are always on the tracks…it is just a matter of what you do when the vibrations on the rails begin and how many tools/how good the shrink and meds you have to put yourself back together if you are hit full on.
Also, “The opposite of depression isn ‘t happiness….it is vitality”.

November 7, 2012 at 10:09 am
(2) Zoe says:

Good that they developed this scale!
I hope they will start developing this kind of scale for other disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder,because what they define as a “life worth living” doesn’t always match with the patients’/consumers’ opinion of recovery.(some have committed suicide after successfully completing DBT) Its easy for them to define recovery using a certain number of criteria when they’re not the ones still suffering every day.DBT ACES has been created (its still in its infancy).There’s still a VERY long way to go.

November 7, 2012 at 7:59 pm
(3) John Samuels says:

It would be good to have a similar scale for remission from bipolar disorder. Zimmerman does good work, and is worth following.

November 11, 2012 at 9:52 am
(4) Psychotherapie München says:

Does anyone have experiences with McCullough’s CBASP which has been developed as a psychotherapy for people with chronic depression?

Congratulation on your scale!

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